Desserts are yummy, but many are even yummier with whipped cream on top. Whipped cream was invented about 500 years ago, by a bunch of chefs with long Italian and French names. But what made them think to whip up cream in the first place? Did they know it would be worth the work? Remember, there was no electricity back then — they had to whip it by hand. When we whipped some at Bedtime Math, 1 cup of heavy cream turned into 3 cups of whipped cream. That was a key math fact for the people who made the world’s longest ice cream dessert. The sundae stretched 1,101 feet, which is more than 1/5 of a mile! It used 880 quarts of ice cream and, yes, 110 cans of whipped cream. We’re glad no one had to whip all of that by hand.
Wee ones: Whipped cream is a smooth cool white. See if you can spot 5 white things in your room.
Little kids: If you squirt whipped cream on the 2nd ice cream scoop in that dessert, then the 4thscoop, then the 6th…which scoop do you think you squirt next? Bonus: If each cup of heavy cream turns into 3 cups of whipped cream, how much whipped cream can you make from 2 cups of heavy cream?
Big kids: If a can of whipped cream holds 6 cups, and when you open that can it squirts 1 1/2 cups all over you, how much is left in the can? Bonus: If it took 110 cans to cover about 1,100 feet of ice cream sundae, about how many feet did each can cover?
The sky’s the limit: If each 6-cup can covered 10 feet of sundae, and there were 3 scoops of ice cream per foot, did each scoop get at least 1/4 cup of whipped cream?
Wee ones: Items might include a shirt, a sneaker, a bedsheet, or a stuffed animal!
Little kids: The 8th scoop. Bonus: 6 cups of whipped cream.
Big kids: 4 1/2 cups. Bonus: About 10 feet.
The sky’s the limit: Not quite. The 10 feet of sundae had 30 scoops. 30 scoops would need 30/4 cups of whipped cream, which comes to 7 1/2 cups (since 28/4 of a cup would be exactly 7). That’s more than the 6-cup can.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.